Year-long trades programmes for young people who are less suited to traditional classroom work are being run for the first time through the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute (CITTI).
The classes began in February and run until the end of Semester Two in November, giving students an academic qualification in recognition of their work.
There are two programmes for senior Tereora College students, who are identified by the school or of their own accord as being suited to the hands-on classes.
“They’ve identified students who are not as settled in the classroom as they’d like to be, and have a more practical nature,” said head of school Alister Anderson.
This includes 15 students enrolled in a “Construction Academy” course, where they learn construction skills for eight hours a week, and another 15 students who spend 15 hours a week at a “Trades Academy” course learning various trades, including automotive and electrical skills.
A separate group of 12 young people are enrolled in a Building Construction and Allied Trades Skills (BCATS) course, where they spend 25 hours a week learning a range of trades.
The BCATS students are mostly tracked down by CITTI staff, who identify young people in the community who may have become disillusioned with school and would enjoy the practical nature of learning a trade, and offer them a chance to sign up.
“It’s very project-based – they’re doing very hands-on work,” said Anderson.
This can range from small projects at the trades school to real-world projects that are needed by people in the community – for instance, some students helped install windows in a house at the request of the owner in exchange for food. The courses include both theory and practical work, with the emphasis of assessment being on the completion of hands-on tasks.
“If they build something, we can say they’ve done some maths because they had to measure. They’re assessed in a practical manner,” said Anderson.